There once was a sweet potato named Sam.
In his best, most tuberous voice,
He’d repeat the phrase of his choice,
Reminding the world that he was someveggie of note:
My name is Sam; I yam what I yam!
But somehow, through the soil and the sand,
And oftime through the mud all around,
It never rang true, all muffled of sound,
Though his leaves, in the sun, ruffled refrain;
“My name is Sam: I yam what I yam!” he tubered again.
Daily he’d stretch up more greens and more vines
Toward the towering oaks and the wind-swaying pines
Who soared high above
Where Sam dared not strive.
To the overcast clouds,
To the bees in their hives
To all that moved free, not shackled like Sam—
“I can’t roam like you, but I yam what I yam!”
Then, late in the season, the farmer began
To dig up the field and harvest the sweets.
He dug up the furrows, the tators and weeds.
Sam’s eyes in bright sun, roots out of the dim–
For the first time, forever, not buried or grim,
No longer needing to shout or to scream,
He lifted a whisper, dared shatter the dream,
And all of the world finally heard his refrain,
“I yam what I yam,” he softly proclaimed.
“My name is Sam,” he whispered again.
Um, I’m not liking that one at all…
I am short. I am fat.
I’d make a better sleeping cat,
Than all the things they say I should be,
A mom, a ‘talent’, a statuesque twig,
Have hair—and not cancer, just a form for a wig
That never fits right
And forever is itching.
And I should talk ‘positive’ and stop all this b****ing…
As chemo melts through
All the ‘me’ that I was.
And well-meaning friends, helpful and certain
Keep telling me nonsense will stop all the hurtin’
Like ‘it’s only hair’ (not when it’s on your own head)
And “This, too, will pass (it’s better than dead)”
Their phrases, too, are but scarves for the ‘bald’
When my wishes and dreams lay exposed,
The outcome unknown.
Little but dross,
There are no trite phrases
That can be rhymed
And make glad the rhythm
Of life chemically metered
in twenty-one days…
Seven of misery,
Seven, some better
Seven in countdown to start again…
Flamingo flock on the lawn marches forward
Like some cancer-pink army, flailing in chaos
And eating their shrimp to maintain their hue…
“It’s only feathers. It will grow back”
As they enter my dreamtime, ‘ports’ bulging their necks,
Drip bags dangling from waggle-ing beaks,
Counting the days, the treatments, the weeks.
And should any small part of my ‘I am’ remain,
When all of the smelting, dross-purging are through,
May God, the great, eternal I Am, –who happens to have hair, whether or not I do–
Find some scrap of MY ‘I am’ still faithful and true.